The much-awaited film Chhapaak hit theatres on Friday. The movie, I must say, is as powerful and moving as the trailer, leaving you emotional and thoughtful. Deepika Padukone as Malti has done a stellar job of portraying the affliction that acid attack survivors live with every day. The film will stay with me for a long time, for it raises the following important issues:

The prevalence of toxic masculinity and misogyny 

There is a scene in the movie in which Amol (played by Vikrant Massey) says that the acid first corrodes the mind of a person and then compels him to throw the same at someone. This acid is present in society in the form of toxic masculinity and misogyny. It was heart-wrenching to see a woman attack another woman with acid as directed by a man who couldn’t take no for an answer to his marriage proposal.

The movie is an attempt to help people understand why it is unrealistic and illogical to relate a woman’s self-esteem with her external beauty.

The psychological ramifications of an acid attack

The acid attack not only gives Malti grievous injuries on the face and neck but is also a savage blow to her confidence and ambition to become the country’s best singer. However, the courage Malti exhibits in the face of adversity is very inspiring. The acid couldn’t corrode her spirit and the zest to go on fighting for justice, regaining confidence and working for a cause she is passionate for and uplifting many such survivors along her journey.

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The reaction of society towards survivors

The movie showcases a variety of reactions and feelings that people show towards acid attack survivors, making an attempt to help people understand why it is unrealistic and illogical to relate a woman’s self-esteem with her external beauty. While Malti’s parents are extremely supportive and help her get back to her normal life as much as possible, it’s difficult for the people around her to accept her. A child screaming on seeing her disfigured face, teenagers in neighbourhood referring to her as a ghost are some of the scenes which will haunt you because we know that they aren’t far from reality. On the other hand are people like Amol who support the cause and are shown celebrating every time the government made or amended laws to make the punishment for acid attack survivors stricter.

The complexity of the problem

The movie is a subtle reminder of the stark reality that crimes of this magnitude affect people from different social strata differently. Malti is from a low social-economic background which aggravates the family’s problems further. The attack is a blow to her already weak financial situation since the facial reconstruction surgeries are quite expensive. Her brother’s debilitating condition also affects their finances further, add to that the fact that it is a struggle for Malti to find a job because of her disfigurement.

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Unregulated sale of acids

Malti, on several occasions, rues the unregulated sale of acid which was the primary reason behind the attack. Besides being sold openly, it is also available at a very cheap rate making it more accessible and increasing the prevalence of such crimes in our society.

It was heart-wrenching to see a woman attack another woman with acid as directed by a man who couldn’t take no as an answer to his marriage proposal.

The pursuit of love remains constant

Human life is not a bed of roses. We face obstacles, keep our faith in ourselves intact, overcome them and go ahead. What remains constant in our lives is our pursuit to find love and acceptance. That’s what the movie also subtly highlights. Love blooms silently between Malti and Amol amidst all the tension, action and drama which is heartwarming to watch, reminding us that we all have the right to love despite the circumstances we are trapped in.

Image Credit: Fox Star Studios

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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